Internet Chapter Workshops
From Memoir to Fiction: Using Fictional Techniques to Create Autobiographical Story
Susan Wittig Albert, Ph.D.
Author: Writing From Life, Work of Her Own, the China Bayles Herbal Mysteries, the Robin Paige Victorian Mysteries, numerous articles, textbooks, children's novels
Thanks for your interest!
Here is how our on-line workshop is organized:
Become a member (using our on-line form) of the Story Circle Network, as well as the Internet Chapter.
- Enroll in a workshop(s), using our on-line enrollment form
- Send your check to
Story Circle Network
PO Box 1670
Estes Park CO 80517-1670
- When your payment has been received, you will receive email notification that will include instructions on how to access the web pages for the workshop in which you enrolled.
"Memoir must be written because each of us must possess a created version of the past... If we learn not only to tell our stories but to listen to what our stories tell us--to write the first
draft and then return for the second draft--we are doing the work of memory."
--Patricia Hampl, I Could Tell You Stories: Sojourns in the Land of Memory
This workshop is designed for women who want to make stories out of the lives they've lived--that is, to create autobiographical fiction. In this six-session workshop, you'll be asked to take two personal stories you have already written (or may write especially for the workshop) and revise and expand them, using the fictional techniques that are outlined and explained on the workshop website. You will practice developing characters and plots, creating a scene, using point of view, crafting dialogue, managing time (flash-backs, flash-forwards), and creating settings. Throughout, there will be a special emphasis on copy-editing techniques. (Yes, this means that spelling and grammar ARE important!) You will submit your work to me via email attachments (Word documents preferred). I will read and critique your submissions in the old-fashioned way, by annotating them in pencil (I promise not to use red pencil) and returning them to you via snail mail or fax. You may work at your own pace, but must finish the workshop by May 15, 2003.
Please note: this workshop is for women who have already written a number of short memoirs, are accustomed to writing for an audience, have the ego-strength to accept constructive criticism, and would like to learn and/or polish the techniques of fiction writing. It is not an introductory course. It is also not an appropriate context for me to help you polish and prepare for publication a long piece of work you have already written. (In other words, I am not a book doctor.) To take this course, you should have time to complete the writing within the stated period.
--Susan Wittig Albert
- Your introduction:
When you have received the instructor's approval to take the course, please send me an email (
susanalbert at storycircle.org
), introducing yourself and answering these four questions:
- What is your purpose in joining this workshop? That is, what are you looking for from me?
- What kind of experience have you had as a writer? (Experience isn't necessary, but I'd like to know where we're starting.)
- Who do you think of as the audience for the writing you'll be doing in this workshop?
- What specifically are you expecting from me?
- Workshop Materials/Procedures
When you register, you will get a password that will take you to the instructions/teaching materials for the first unit of the course. You will write and submit your work to me (1500 words max each submission) via email attachment (Word preferred) or snail mail. I will critique, correct, suggest, recommend, exhort, and do my best to help you move forward in your mastery of the craft.
I'd prefer you to spend one week working on each unit of the course, and submit your work weekly. However, if you have a time problem, you can send them bi-weekly. Either way, please send me an email with the dates you plan to submit the work. The idea here is for you to use the discipline of submission as motivation to write. (There have been times in my life when I just couldn't write if some editor hadn't given me a deadline!)
- Missed deadlines:
If you must miss your self-determined deadline (weekly or bi-weekly) please let me know that you're going to miss it and tell me when you'll meet it. (If I'm going to be late with a magazine article, I have to let my editor know, so she can decide how to handle the situation.) If a couple of deadlines go by and I haven't heard from you, I'll assume that you've dropped the workshop.
If you drop before submitting the third unit, you'll receive a $75 refund. No refunds after submitting the third unit.
If you have special problems that keep you from completing the course by the specified date, you can request an incomplete. The fee is $25.
At the end of your six units, I'll send you an overall evaluation of your work. I'll also send you an evaluation form for you to fill out and return to me, soliciting your feedback about the materials and my responses, and your suggestions for improving the process. This workshop is very much an experiment, and we've all got a lot to learn about this new means of communicating.
- Comments from students in previous on-line workshops:
- --"This was my second online writing course, and it was much better than one I took a few years ago at another web site. The primary benefit was Susan's suggestions on how to make my work read better. When I made the changes, it was amazing to me how much better everything flowed."
- --"I particularly liked Susan's "conceptual" comments on my work--for instance, her suggestions about changing the order of paragraphs, seeing a structure, etc. I found the "editorial" corrections picky, but if that's what is required for publication, then that's useful, too."
- --"Good study materials, appropriately arranged and presented, with lots of ideas for writing and organizing. I especially appreciated Susan's first-class editorial help. Well worth the money, when I stop to think how many hours this much-published author put into reading and commenting on my stuff!"
- Developing character and plot
- Creating scenes
- Designing dialogue
- Working with point of view
- Managing time (flash-backs, flash-forwards)
- Creating settings
In each unit, there will be a special emphasis on copy-editing techniques. A bibliography of resource texts will be provided.
Submit your writing to
Susan Wittig Albert
- via email:
susanalbert at storycircle.org
- or fax:
(phone first, 512-355-2799, and be sure that your name and return fax number are on your submission!)
- or "snail mail":
Story Circle Network
Internet Chapter Workshop
P.O. Box 1616
Bertram, TX 78605-1616
Last updated: 02/18/03